CHAOS MISTRAL MULTI TASKER PRO BALACLAVA
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
June 05, 2011
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Woodstock, Vermont, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
155 lb (70.30 kg)
My backpacking experience began six years ago, after years of car camping. Most trips are for two or three days, some lasting a week. I hike with a group of two to four, with plans for a multi-day solo hike this summer. I pack a tent or tarp depending on availability of trail shelters. My average mileage is 15 mi (24 km). While aware of weight, it is not my primary concern. I strive for enjoyable outings with functional, reliable gear. I usually travel in woodland mountain terrain. I am a three-season camper, but enjoy hiking all year.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Image courtesy of Chaos|
Year of Manufacture: 03/10
Manufacturer's Website: www.chaoshats.com
MSRP: US$ 24.99
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 2.4 oz (68 g)
Size Tested: L/XL
Sizes Available: JNR, S/M, L/XL
Materials: 88% Polyester 12% Spandex
Made in: China
- wear alone or under a helmet
- mesh breathing panel
- 3D form fitting flat panel construction
- Flat lock stitching
- lycra binding around face
- shaped bottom prevents gathering
- form fitting 4-way stretch
- moisture wicking
- highly breathable
- machine washable
The Chaos Mistral Multi Tasker Pro, hereafter referred to as the balaclava, arrived packaged in a plastic display hanger. The display hanger provides details of the balaclavas performance abilities. After removing and reading the packaging I examined the balaclava.
The fabric feels soft and smooth. The stitching is even and tight. The fabric stretches easily and returns to its shape. There is one tag on the inside with product and care information. The CTR (Chaos Thermal Regulation) logo is on the front, bottom, right of the balaclava. The nose and chin area are contoured to take the shape of the face, with a mesh fabric over the mouth area. The material inside the front of the balaclava is thicker and extremely soft.
After my initial inspection, I found no flaws in the balaclavas materials or construction.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The balaclava did not come with any instructions other than for washing. None are really needed as it's almost as intuitive as a hat. However I do have concerns about sizing. I am unable to find any sizing chart on the packaging or company website. My head circumference is 22 in (56 cm) and I am testing the L/XL size.
TRYING IT OUT
The balaclava feels like putting a very cozy sock on over my head. It's snug but not tight, warm but not hot. It stretches easily to go over my head then form-fits to my face. The only place the fit is slightly loose is under my eyes. After about 30 seconds I can feel the heat retention. I have tried wearing it five different ways and can image utilizing each in the field. My only concern is moisture building up from respiration when worn over my nose. I am very pleased with the balaclava's versatility.
I will use the Chaos Mistral Multi Tasker Pro on all my outdoor winter activities. I will evaluate its ability to keep me warm while keeping the wind out. I am interested in seeing how it fits with other clothing and if it will bunch up or restrict movement. I am also interested if it is compatible with a helmet while snowboarding. I will also test how it affects my breathing and how my breathing affects it during heavy exertion.
The Chaos Mistral Multi Tasker Pro is a well made and comfortable item. I like the way it feels when worn and also its versatility. I am eager to test the balaclava in the field.
Thanks to Chaos and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Mistral Multi Tasker Pro. This concludes my Initial Report. Please check back in two months for the Field Report.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
All Testing took place in the Green Mountains of Vermont during three activities: snowshoeing, snowboarding and daily dog walks.
Snowshoeing was at Mt. Tom a 1350 ft (411 m) tall hill overlooking the town of Woodstock. The summit was reached by a 1 mi (1.6 km) trail with a 650 ft (198 m) gain in elevation. I hiked a total of 5 mi (8 km) on several connecting trails on two different occasions. On the first hike the temperature was 25 F (-4 C) on a clear calm day. On the second hike the temperature was 20 F (-6 C) with light winds on a clear day. I carried a light pack of 5 lbs (2.3 kg) on both days.
The morning dog walk is a 2 mi (3.2 km) loop. The terrain is a mix of paved and gravel road. The elevation starts at 700 ft (210 m) and reaches 850 ft (560 m). Start time is 5:45 a.m. and for the months of January through March temperatures ranged from -15 to 30 F (-26 to -1 C). Conditions varied greatly from calm and clear to snowing with and without gusting winds to sleeting.
Snowboarding took place at Killington Mountain Resort. The summit is 4241 ft (1293 m) with a vertical drop of 3050 ft (930 m). I rode at Killington six days over a two month period. Temperatures ranged from 0 to 30 F (-18 to -1 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I have used the Chaos Mistral Multi-Tasker almost daily for two months. During this time I have experienced a range of winter weather conditions while wearing the balaclava. Its performance in the field has been solid. When wearing the Multi-Tasker my head, neck and face are warm and protected from the elements. Its ability to hold heat and block wind are excellent. The comfort is exceptional when worn on its own or with a hat or ski/snowboard helmet. I have washed the Mult-Tasker twice during field testing. It has held up, without any signs of wear or changes in its level of performance.
|7/8 w/ Hat|
On morning dog walks I wear the Multi-Tasker in full balaclava mode, covering my head, face and neck, while also wearing a fleece hat. The balaclava is compatible with my standard winter fleece hat and winter parka with the neck fully zipped. When wrapped in the Multi-Taskers envelope of warmth I am almost unaware I am wearing a balaclava. The only noticeable part is where it covers my nose and mouth. The only reason for this is the warm, moist air that is trapped during respiration. This is both a positive and a negative. On the plus side this makes breathing on subzero mornings much easier. On the negative side there is a point in which too much moisture builds and becomes unpleasant. I do notice before it becomes unpleasant the excess moisture escapes the balaclava below my eyes. This leads to my only complaint, the Multi-Taskers loose fit over the top of my nose. The moisture escaping from this area consistently formed rime on my eyelashes. The first time this occurred it was rather alarming. Strange sensation, not being able to fully open my eyes because my eyelash are frozen together. I then used this as an indication to vent the moisture by lowering the position of the balaclava. By wearing it underneath my nose just covering my nostrils the moisture build up and rime where eliminated. Only on the coldest mornings did I have to alternate between covering and uncovering my nose multiple times. I feel my complaint is a result of improper sizing. I can't help but think a small/medium would be a better size for me. I was unsure of sizing when viewing the Multi-Tasker on the company website. In this case a little more information would be very helpful.
When snowshoeing I start out with the Multi-Tasker fully deployed. Within 15 minutes on the 25 F (-4 C) day I was too warm. I lowered the hood portion, so only my neck was being covered. After another 20 minutes too warm again. I now changed to wearing the Multi-Tasker as a hat only. I do this by pulling the balaclava off of my head so that the neck portion is at the top of my ears. I then pull the top of the hood portion down over my head, making sure the fabric in between folds into the hood. I was able to complete my hike wearing the Mult-Tasker as a hat.
On the 20 F (-6 C) day being colder I made fewer adjustments. I only folded the nose/face portion down under my chin. This was after about 15 minutes once I warmed up and breathing the cold air was no longer uncomfortable.
When snowboarding I have worn the Multi-Tasker under a ski/snowboard helmet. I put the Multi-Tasker on in full balaclava mode. Then put on the helmet and fasten the chin strap. I can then fold the nose/face portion down while all other areas remain covered. The Multi-Tasker fits comfortably under my helmet. It is compatible with wearing goggles and a ski jacket. The fabric does not bunch up or gather in any area. My range of motion and visual field of view are not decreased when wearing the balaclava. I found it very easy to fold the nose/face portion up and down while on the move and wearing bulking mittens. This is a huge advantage in the constant variable New England ski conditions of winds and blowing snow, natural and man-made. I never had a problem with snow or ice collecting on the Multi-Tasker. In wind gust of approximately 15 mph (24 kph) I was unfazed, other than trying not to fall over. The issue of eyelash rime did not occur when snowboarding. I attribute this to either the goggles or the amount of airflow while boarding.
I am very pleased with the Multi-Taskers performance thus far. Its protection from the wind and ability to shed snow and ice are impressive. The warmth and comfort level are excellent. I have experienced only one problem when using the Multi-Tasker and feel it is a manageable one. There is a limited ability to vent respiratory moisture during heavy exertion.
As the field test period has ended so has the extremely cold weather. While the temperatures are on the rise, I will use the Multi-Tasker as weather permits.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
The Chaos Mistral Multi Tasker Pro has accompanied me on several more hikes. Unfortunately it has stayed in my pack. The temperatures during the long term test period have not warranted its use.
The Multi Tasker has proven to be a quality balaclava. It has provided excellent protection from the wind and cold temperatures. I have found it comfortable in every way I have worn it. The materials and construction have held up well. After many cycles of being taken on and off, the fabric still has its stretch and holds its shape. The only negative I have found was difficulty ventilating excess moisture during heavy respiration.
The Chaos Mistral Multi Tasker Pro will be a part of my cold weather gear. I will use it whenever the temperature is well below freezing and/or the cold winds blow. The Multi Tasker is great when a layer of extra warmth might be necessary. I will pack it when traveling at elevations or seasons when weather can change quickly.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
This concludes my test series. I would like to thank Choas and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Multi Tasker Pro balaclava.
Read more gear reviews by Michael Pearl